And that’s just the Mayor…
I was watching the TV news in the Canadian town of Calgary last night as I waited to catch a plane, and as the images of a blazing London filled the screen I felt a series of emotions.
I felt a sickening sense of incredulity that this could really be happening in our city. I felt a blinding anger at the callousness and selfishness of the rioters. Then I felt something else, as I stood in the gaggle of Canadians and others, a feeling I found hard at first to pin down since I had never felt it before in relation to the city I am proud to represent.
I felt ashamed – ashamed at the actions of a small but significant minority of our fellow Londoners, and the damage they are doing to their own economic prospects and the reputation of London around the planet.
In less than 12 months we will welcome the world to a great summer Games in the greatest city on earth – and by then we must all hope that we will look back on these events as a bad dream. It can be done. But it will be hard, and we will have our work cut out.
To all those who have suffered the destruction of their property, and to all those who have been terrified by rioting youths, I can only say how sorry I am and how heartbroken I am by the losses they have suffered.
People will ask how the police could have allowed things to get so out of control.
There will be questions about police numbers and tactics, to say nothing of the original questions about the circumstances of the shooting of Mark Duggan, which must be thoroughly investigated. These are legitimate questions that I, and others, will continue to pose. And yet it would be an utter travesty to blame these events on the police.
The police did not riot. The police did not loot or recklessly set fire to property. The police did not attack innocent bystanders.
These were the actions of criminals who took part in premeditated acts of violence and theft. I have read some of the conspiratorial “tweets” and frankly I find them nauseating in their jocular greed and brutality.
Yes, the UK has been going through the worst recession for 50 years, and yes, times have been tough. But you don’t boost London’s job-generating prospects by smashing London’s shops. You don’t make it easier for small businesses to take on apprentices and interns by torching their premises.
But the locals aren’t buying it…
Boris Johnson has received a stern talking-to from one woman in Enfield during a visit to the area.
Mr Johnson, who was there to reassure the public about the response to the riots, faced questions about the reaction of the authorities and possible cuts to police numbers.
One woman in particular was not impressed by the Mayor’s words, telling him, “This would not happen anywhere else in the world, except England”.
- BBC News